Trying to find relief from a stressed or anxious mind can sometimes feel impossible. While in the middle of a panic attack, our minds run on autopilot as destructive, negative thoughts run through our heads uncontrollably, affecting our moods and even our physical health. Although many sufferers feel like there’s no hope to managing their restless minds, there are actually easy mind tips you can follow to help you control your thoughts before they spiral out of control. And we’re not just talking about counting to 10 or thinking of positive thoughts. These specific tricks are easy ways you can fight stress and anxiety now, regardless of where you are, and they’ll only take you a few minutes.
Stop And Observe Mind Trick
Trick #1: Practice the STOP method.
When you feel like you're in the middle of a panic attack, it's important to (S)top your thoughts before they get worse, (T)ake a deep breath, (O)bserve your body (instead of your mind), and (P)roceed once you're finished. This is one of the most popular stress-relieving techniques and only takes a few seconds when applied. The most important step is observing. This step allows you step outside your thoughts for a second and focus on what's happening to your body. Do you feel tense? Angry? Why do you feel this way? Once you're more tapped into the why, you're more likely to handle the situation better and with a calmer mind.
Be Present Mnd Trick
Trick #2: The 333 rule.
When you're in the middle of feeling stressed, it's important to reel yourself back into the present reality instead of hurling your mind into a vortex of negative hypotheticals. A good way to practice being "present" is to follow the 333 rule. The next time you're feeling anxious, simply look around and name three things you see, then three sounds you hear, and lastly, move three parts of your body. "Whenever you feel your brain going 100 miles per hour, this mental trick can help center your mind, bringing you back to the present moment," psychologist Tamar Chansky, Ph.D. told WebMD.
Worry Minutes Mind Trick
Trick #3: Set aside a "worry time."
Sometimes there's no way to silence our worrying thoughts. When that happens, it's best to consolidate all that time-wasting energy into one designated worrying hour. According to a study, participants who did this daily found their overall stress decreasing. "When we're engaged in worry, it doesn't really help us for someone to tell us to stop worrying," psychology professor Tom Borkovec told Live Science. "If you tell someone to postpone it for a while, we are able to actually do that."
Breathe Mind Trick
Trick #4: Breathe.
Sure this might seem like an obvious trick, but taking a few seconds to breathe is a lot more important than you think. Try this: Breathe through your nose gently for about seven seconds, then hold your breath for three seconds before exhaling through your mouth. After a minute of this, your body should start to relax. "The simplest instructions are to notice the sensation of your breath in your abdomen or chest, or nose," Trudy Goodman Kornfield, a mindfulness meditation teacher, said. "Try to stay with one breath at a time. When your mind wanders — and it will wander — simply bring it right back to the sensations of breathing."
Watch Pet Videos Mind Trick
Trick #5: Watch a funny video.
Now this is one trick we doubt you'll procrastinate on! When your mind is feeling sad or restless, laughter is the best medicine. Cue up some cute cat videos or watch your favorite sitcom and allow your stress to melt away. "Laughing is a good prescription for an anxious mind," Dr. Chansky said. "Research shows that laughter has lots of benefits for our mental health and well-being; one study found that humor could help lower anxiety as much as (or even more than) exercise can. "
Write It Down Mind Trick
Trick #6: Write it down.
According to a Harvard study, researchers suggest that writing down your emotions in a journal is a quick way to help relieve stress. Start by journaling first thing in the morning when you wake up. Not only will it put you in a better mood, it'll help you kickstart your day on the right foot and will help you better manage stressful situations that might arise later in the day.
Question Yourself Mind Trick
Trick #7: Question yourself.
When you're feeling anxious, the craziest thoughts enter your heads almost uncontrollably. A good way to manage your thinking is to question the thoughts in your head. According to Marla W. Deibler, PsyD, a clinical psychologist, she recommends answering these questions during a stressful episode: Is this worry realistic? Is this really likely to happen? If the worst possible outcome happens, what would be so bad about that? Could I handle that?
Through these questions, you can ground your thoughts and, hopefully, feel better once you realize the unlikeliness of the scenario.
Let It Out Mind Trick
Trick #8: Just let it out.
Instead of breathing and trying to convince yourself you're not anxious, sometimes you just need to let out whatever pent-up emotions, fear, or stress that's bottled up inside you. In fact, psychologists say screaming when you're stressed ("primal scream therapy") has a calming, cathartic effect. The next time you're standing in a house full of dirty dishes and toys all over the floor, simply scream yourself silly into a pillow. You might feel ridiculous, but you'll feel much better.
Bright Colors Mind Trick
Trick #9: Expose yourself to bright colors.
That's right — vibrant colors like yellow, orange, and blue are great colors to boost your mood and even make you more energetic, according to psychologists. However, you should stay away from red. The color is great for lifting your mood but can add to your anger or stress.
Eye Closed Mind Trick
Trick #10: Imagine a "clear button."
This tactic, popular amongst meditation circles, involves imagining clearing your brain with just a touch of a button. Here's how it works: Close your eyes and imagine there's a "clear" button in your palm. Press it. Next, count for three seconds to allow the thoughts to pass. Last, allow your mind to go blank. When you're finished, open your eyes. Feel free to repeat the steps as many times as necessary.
Counting Mind Trick
Trick #12: Try counting in your head.
And no, we're not talking about counting from one to 10. Instead, try doing an impossible task, like counting backward from 1,000 in intervals of seven (1,000, 993, 986...). If this sounds complicated, that's because it is. The point is to get your mind so focused on the task, it forgets whatever it was you were worried about. It's only a temporary stress fix, but it's one that always works.
Disconnect Mind Trick
Trick #11: Disconnect from social media.
A 2013 study found that many people find that social media sites like Facebook increase their stress. The next time you're procrastinating by staring at your news feed, try logging out and going out for a walk instead. A few minutes in the sun away from computers or smartphones should clear your head and help you feel a lot better.